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COVID Cases Continue Rising

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By Jorge Casuso

August 25, 2023 -- A convergence of events is driving up the number of confirmed COVID cases and hospitalizations, although they remain far below the levels at this time last year, according to LA County Public Health Officials.

An average of 512 daily cases was reported across LA County over the past seven days, a nearly 35 percent increase from the previous week, although the actual number is "much higher," since home tests are not included, officials said.

Meanwhile the daily average number of those hospitalized with COVID in the County of more than 10 million rose to 422, a 30 percent increase, although far below the 1,287 COVID patients hospitalized each day during last year's summer peak.

"The increase in COVID-19 circulation is likely the combined result of multiple factors, including summer travel, return to school and the emergence of new COVID-19 variant strains," health officials said.

"Compared to other points during the pandemic, hospitalizations and deaths remain relatively low."

COVID cases in Santa Monica reflected the Countywide trend, with 64 cases reported over the past seven days, compared to 91 over the previous two weeks.

That brings to 26,900 the total number of cases confirmed in the city of some 93,000 since the coronavirus began spreading in March 2020.

Meanwhile, there were no new deaths reported during the past seven days, the data show. In fact the number of reported deaths dropped from 306 to 305 after one case was not deemed to be virus related.

That means the number of virus-related deaths in Santa Monica has remained the same since June 12, when two deaths were reported over the previous week.

The most severe cases -- as they have been throughout the nearly 3 1/2-year spread of the coronavirus -- are among the elderly and those with serious underlying heath conditions.

"When COVID-19 transmission increases, people residing in skilled nursing facilities are especially vulnerable," since the increased transmission at nursing homes "carries heightened risk for frail elderly," County health officials said.

Over the past seven days, the number of new outbreaks opened in skilled nursing facilities rose to 39, up from 20 the previous week and 13 four weeks ago, health officials said.

If previous government-imposed measures were implemented for all residents, regardless of age or health status, the current rise in cases has been met with widely divergent responses.

While most Santa Monica public school students who returned to campuses on Thursday did not wear masks, Lionsgate made national news when it imposed a strict masking mandate Monday that recalled the coronavirus shutdowns.

“Employees must wear a medical grade face covering (surgical mask, KN95 or N95) when indoors except when alone in an office with the door closed, actively eating, actively drinking at their desk or workstation, or if they are the only individual present in a large open workspace,” Lionsgate announced in a memo.

The directive was lifted at the Santa Monica-based film company on Friday.

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